Snapshot Voyager is about my own personal photography journey. I am always looking to try something new, inquisitive as to how it works, and to the end results I might achieve.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Nikon 105mm f1.8 Ai-S

Though I've had this lens for a while now, I haven't really used it much as I got I just before I sold the D700.  It doesn't really suit the D90 I have now due to lack of manual focus lens metering, but I decided to do a test anyway, and adjust exposure off the screen.  Like most fast aperture portrait lenses, it lacks a bit of contrast and sharpness wide open, but by f2.8 it is pin sharp.  This is a very similar proposition to the Nikkor 85mm f1.4 Ai-S I also have, and common for fast portrait primes.  Like the 85mm f1.4 it shares  the beautiful bokeh in the out of focus areas at wide open aperture.

In fact it is the lovely wide open bokeh that makes purchasing lenses such as this worthwhile.   They're really not that sharp until f2.8 or f4, and the longer minimal focal distance rules out any semi-macro usage.  A similar focal length macro will ultimately be sharper, but the photos won't be as creamy.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Playing with a Fuji XPro-1

A few days ago, while I was trying to put a pre-order in for a Nikon D600, I asked if I could have a look at the Fujifilm XPro-1.  As soon as I picked it up, the camera felt familiar to my X-100.  Sure, it was a bit larger, but all the controls were similar, the hybrid viewfinder the same, and similar excellent results.  It also shares its uncanny ability to surprise with its lightness, as you are expecting to be lifting up a hewn-from-billet steel Leica M3.

It looks like an excellent camera, but at $2,300 all in with one lens, it sure ain't cheap.

Fuji X100

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

D600 Pre-order

A couple days ago I went to Henry's to try and put a pre-order on a Nikon D600.  As it has not been officially released, they would not let me do it.  The lady I spoke to however, was knowledgable about the supposed specs, which leads me to believe it isn't far off.  She wasn't sure how long delivery would be after launch, saying it varied wildly from 2 weeks (Canon T4i and Nikon D3200) to over 3 months (Nikon D800).

So, as soon as it launches, I will put in a pre-order and see if I can get my hands on one.

Nikon FE2 with Nikkor 24mm f2

Monday, 25 June 2012

The return of the Tessar

It's seems really odd, but with the launch of Canon's new 40mm f2.8, two Pancake AF tessar primes have been launched in just a few months, the being Pentax's razor thin 40mm f2.8 K-mount kit lens for their new mirrorless.  Before that, the last time a similar tessar pancake was launched was Nikon's manual focus  45mm f2.8 Ai-P lens.  These lenses have a simple optical design that yields excellent sharpness.  

I have a Nikkor 45mm f2.8 GN,  a tessar from the late 1960's that has had an Ai conversion.  This lens is also excellent, and interestingly, for me, it gets most of its use as a copy lens for film negatives, used with a PB-5 bellows.  It is the only lens that I could get to work consistently well with this set up.  The other interesting thing about this lens is it has markings for flash guide numbers, hence the GN name.

Nikon FE2 with Nikkor 50mm f1.2, copied to digital with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon PB-5 bellows with a Nikkor 45mm f2.8 GN

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Nikon 35-70mm f2.8 - My other sample

Recently I was asked to do a shoot for a family that lives close to us.  They wanted some shots of them and their children to hang up and use around the house, and I was happy to oblige.  I decided to take the Nikon D90, the Nikon SB-800 flash and a few lenses.  I packed the Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8, the Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Macro and the Nikkor 35mm f2.  

When I got there I decided to use the 35-70mm to give me a little zoom range for shooting busy children.  It worked OK, but for some reason the shots came out decidedly flat and lacking in contrast, even at f5.6.  This became significantly worse when pointed to even slightly in the direction of the sun.  I tried a lens hood, but that didn`t work.  This was very disappointing as the other sample of this lens I owned was excellent.

Growing a little frustrated, I attached the 60mm macro and suddenly all the contrast, colour and sharpness was back, and so I kept it on using it for the remainder of the shoot.  Indeed my best shots came while using this lens.  Below are two shots taken next to each other to illustrate the difference.

Once I have a bad experience with the lens, its time to let it go; and that`s exactly what I did.  These still bring good money on the used market, and this will enable me to put money towards a new full frame D-SLR.

Nikon D90 with Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8

Nikon D90 with Nikkor 60mm f2.8 micro

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Sigma 19mm f2.8

Like the Sigma 30mm f2.8 I mentioned in an earlier post, I really like the idea of this lens - small, cheap, sharp and light.  Interestingly, the reviews are also very good.  I am thinking I might purchase one, probably the 30mm, as an every day lens for the NEX 5n.  Sure, esoteric Leica lenses are fun, but sometimes you want something that works with a minimum of fuss.   The 16mm Sony lenses is really too wide for most situations and a Sigma 19mm would be too close to this to be worthwhile.